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Consumers of Udder Milk Products Advised to Consult Healthcare Professionals

The Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH) is advising anyone who drank or consumed raw milk products from the company Udder Milk in the past six months to visit their doctors for antibiotics to prevent illness.

This announcement is an update to a November 15th press release in which RIDOH urged Rhode Islanders to not consume Udder Milk products or any raw milk products. Udder Milk had been ordered to cease and desist its illegal sales of unpasteurized, raw milk following confirmation that a New Jersey woman who drank the company's milk was infected with antibiotic-resistant brucellosis. Because Udder Milk has not provided information about the farms that supply their milk, it has not been possible to trace the source of the woman's infection. This has prompted the recommendation from federal and state health officials for people to visit their doctors for antibiotics if they have consumed Udder Milk raw milk products in the past six months.

This guidance is particularly important for pregnant women. While Brucella can cause anyone to become sick, it may cause women to suffer miscarriages and other pregnancy complications.

Consumers would place orders online, and then meet drivers at specific delivery locations, including locations in Rhode Island, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New York. It is illegal to transport raw milk across state lines and sell raw milk. Unpasteurized milk may contain dangerous bacteria. Anyone who has become ill after consuming raw milk products should immediately consult a medical professional. Pasteurized milk and dairy products bought commercially are considered safe for consumption because they are heated to a high temperature that kills harmful bacteria.

Antibiotics are being used in this instance as a form of post-exposure prophylaxis, which means that the medication is intended as a treatment to reduce the likelihood of an infection after potential exposure. Antibiotics should only be used if they are prescribed by a healthcare provider. The use of antibiotics when they are not prescribed by a healthcare provider is dangerous.

The woman from New Jersey tested positive for Brucella RB51 infection. She has since recovered. Brucella bacteria are primarily passed among infected animals. People can become infected by eating or drinking contaminated raw milk products.

A Brucellosis infection can cause a range of symptoms including fever, sweats, chills, weight loss, headache, fatigue, and muscle and joint pain. Symptoms may appear up to six months after exposure. Some symptoms may persist for prolonged periods of time or reoccur. These include recurrent fevers; arthritis; swelling of the testicle and scrotum area, heart and/or spleen; depression; neurological symptoms; and chronic fatigue. Brucella RB51 cannot be diagnosed through tests commonly used to diagnose the disease, and this strain is resistant to one of the antibiotics commonly used to treat brucellosis in people.

From 1993 through 2012, there were 127 outbreaks linked to raw milk that were reported to the CDC, resulting in 1,909 illnesses and 144 hospitalizations. All suspected and confirmed cases of brucellosis in Rhode Island are immediately reportable to RIDOH. There have been no cases of Brucellosis in Rhode Island in the last five years.

Anyone who purchased any milk or other food from Udder Milk should call the RIDOH's Center for Food Protection at 401-222-2749.

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